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Guo Ning Li, 78, killed in Chinatown crosswalk by van driver who failed to yield

Guo Ning Li

On February 20, 2023, a right-turning FedEx van driver ran over and killed Marsha Frankel, 72, as she crossed Wabash Avenue at Roosevelt Road in the South Loop in a crosswalk. Tragically, a very similar act of negligence by a van driver took the life of fellow senior Guo Ning Li, 78, earlier this month in Chinatown.

According to the crash report, a witness told responding officers on Sunday, March 19, at 11:30 a.m. she was driving west on 24th Street and stopped at at stop at Wentworth Avenue. She said that the eastbound driver of a Ford van, a 64-year-old man, was stopped at the stop sign on the other side of Wentworth. The van driver then made a northbound left turn onto Wentworth. The witness said as she was waiting for the van driver to complete his turn, she saw Li in the crosswalk. The van driver then "slowly struck" the pedestrian, "at which point he fell to the ground."

Diagram of the collision from the crash report.
Diagram of the collision from the crash report.
Diagram of the collision from the crash report.

The witness told officers Li was breathing but not answering her questions. The report indicates that neither the van driver nor Li spoke much English.

Li, who lived about a mile southeast of the crash site, was taken to Stroger Hospital by a Chicago Fire Department ambulance, according to the crash report. A police officer who later's checked on Li's status was told by a doctor that the senior was in stable condition.

According to the Cook County medical examiner's officer, Li later later died from his injuries. An autopsy found the cause of death was craniocerebral injuries with hypertensive cardiovascular disease as a contributing factor.

The van driver, who lives half a mile from the crash location, was cited for failure to exercise due care to a pedestrian in the road and driving an uninsured vehicle, with a court date of May 22. The crash report states that the driver repeatedly told officers he stopped, but did not answer other questions.

24th and Wentworth, looking east. Image: Google Maps
24th and Wentworth, looking east. Image: Google Maps
24th and Wentworth, looking east. Image: Google Maps

A GoFundMe posted by Li's daughter Cindy Wong said Li was shopping for food at the time he was struck. "At the age of 78, my father was still a healthy man. He would walk about a mile one way to Chinatown to buy groceries. Then he would come home and take care of his half-paralyzed wife. Sadly, he never returned home from this grocery visit."

Wong said her mother Cailian Yu not only lost her husband, but also her main caretaker. "She is devastated!" Wong requested contributions to help cover funeral expenses and care for Yu.

"My father was a well-regarded teacher in China," Wong wrote. "When he immigrated to the U.S., he became a caretaker for elderly people. This job was in stark contrast to what he did as a teacher, but he embraced this job and worked hard to care for his clients. He eagerly took up extra shifts when no one else wanted them. He was praised for his compassion and kindness under his care... My father would not have wanted to leave my mom this way."

Pedestrian: 11
Bicyclist: 0

Note: Streetsblog Chicago’s traffic death numbers represent fatal crashes on Chicago surface streets, based on media reports and/or preliminary Chicago Police Department data.

2023 Chicago pedestrian fatality cases

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